Safaricom advantage users and level of service

Few years age, a blogger wrote a blog post, largely addressing the issues faced by Safaricom advantage users. The thrust of the post was that Safaricom neglects its post paid users; they get no promos on double your airtime, they have lesser products etc.

The blog post was stinging and had laid down several issues, which I can’t remember all. It was so bad that the post had to be pulled down/deleted 🙂 some dark forces felt that it painted Safaricom in bad light and at that time, the company he was working was doing business with Safaricom, so it was either his blog post or the job and we all know how easy that decision can get 🙂

That blogpost reminds me a lot, especially when I have issues with Safaricom voice, I always remember that once you commit to pay you bill at the end of the month, you cease to be an important customer that needs to be courted; think of pre paid customers as girlfriends/boyfriends who need continuous impression and the postpaid customers as wives/husbands, who have made their decision and have to put up with whatever problems arise.

In my association with Safaricom voice as a post paid customer, I have had several issues which I have had to suck up or deal with or get over because I am not the only customer and they could care less and as long as I never move providers, then I better stop whining, which I have to 🙂

But the thing about Safaricom that I never understand is why they disconnect calls mid conversation; whether the bill is due or not, I think its just rude, plain and simple.

Sample this:

Its a saturday morning, I have a breakfast meeting with a business contact, I get to the meeting point, but have to tell my contact which Cafe I am at; that was the agreement. Just when I started  that conversation and before I could say where I was, the phone was disconnected; on checking, the phone was dead but that was because my bill was due two days ago and forget that I had 1,000 left of the maximum amount that I could use, and Safaricom had that deposit.

 

So, I sat there wondering whether to send the business contact a call me back, whether to leave the tea and start walking around looking for the person, or to look for a Safaricom shop and pay the bill and this is the point where you curse for not having money on Mpesa.

As I sat there seething with anger and wondering my next cause of action, Dorcas Muthoni walks in; she asks what my problem was and I explained. She laughed for about a minute and then she recounted her own problems and how discontinuation of calls mid conversation angered her, until she discovered the voice bundles, which she doesn’t exhaust and her bill drastically reduced. We agreed that the best thing is to cancel the postpaid contract and get the bundles.

And I felt better after that conversation.

In the meantime, I got a text from the person I was meeting, to say that they have had to rush, I almost asked why they couldn’t call me but hey, I needed them more than they needed me and it was incumbent upon me to sort out my problems. Thats what happens when you want to take five minutes with people who are going to other meetings or had other stuff to do around that venue.

So, after waking up early and getting disappointed, I walked to the Safaricom shop and there was a queue, maybe five people but believe me, it was almost an hour before I got to the counter, I thought it was easy, you guys have my deposit, I still have a k on that deposit, so we can cancel out and subscribe to the new bundle.

Well, that was wishful thinking.

First I was told to write a letter cancelling the old contract, then she went behind the door, took fifteen minutes and came back with a lady called Edith, I think she was the manager or the person who calls the shots.

She explained to me that I have to pay the bill first, write a letter, it goes to credit control, and it will take another two days to reactivate my new bundles. As she is talking, I am getting worked up, you have my money and you are treating me this way? Well that is what policy says.

So, I ask: “What will the credit control do? You have my deposit, and the practice is that you disconnect or if I max on that deposit?” 

She said: “That is the policy, and there is nothing I can do.” 

In my head, I had a few statements that I would have said to that lady but then, she was only a messenger, I am sure Bob Collymore and his team of policy experts do not consult here on some of the insults she has had to endure because of lopsided policies and aggrieved customers who expect Safaricom to treat them better.

In the end, I was having a bad day, I decided to to give her a bad day by unleashing my angry tone and I walked away, to go look for money to pay the bill and come back. But that queue at Safaricom care centre at Sarit always discourages me. Imagine the look I gave her when she said that I have to queue again.

I am not sure Safaricom will take any action for the better but hey…..ranting can make you feel better 🙂

Kenic Publishes .Ke Registrar and Domain Numbers

About a month or so ago, Kenic, the .ke domain administrator shared the numbers that the registrars were pulling in. This was in a marketing campaign meant to increase the number of domains.

The list was shared to all the registrars and I guess anyone who was interested. To me it looked like name and shame but when I spoke to Anthony Wambugu, the new Kenic CEO, it was a way to motivate the registrars.

I said thanks to Wambugu and team for sharing this list because in many occasions, people close to the Kenic board say “I sell so many .ke domains” and when I look at the list, it is such a shame.

I also had a chance to visit Kenic offices and hear of how the .ke has changed, the plans for the future etc…. Yes, they have changed, at least I got some tea and samosa 🙂 and for the other aspects, it remains to be seen.

The team seemed eager to prove that Kenic is way better. They kept on saying how the online reputation was bad, courtesy of some bloggers and with a straight face I asked “who are these bloggers?” and I got a silent stare from the marketing manager 🙂

Before I digress to other things…… first enjoy the numbers…..

REGISTRAR 2012 ACTURALS 2013 TARGET
2013 Monthly TGT
2013 Weekly TGT
1 EACdirectory 2042 4000 333 83
2 SawaSawa.com Limited 1296 3000 250 63
3 Sasahost Limited 1104 2000 167 42
4 Safaricom Limited 913 2000 167 42
5 Webhost Kenya Ltd 887 2000 167 42
7 deepAfrica Co Ltd 347 1000 83 21
8 Kenya Website Experts 273 1000 83 21
9 AccessKenya Group 156 500 42 11
10 ALMOND COMMUNICATIONS 155 500 42 11
11 STRATECH OFFICE SYSTEMS 155 500 42 11
12 Kenyaweb Hostmaster 147 500 42 11
13 Afriregister Limited 142 500 42 11
14 Mambo Microsystems 119 400 33 8
15 ETIQET SOLUTIONS LIMITED 117 400 33 8
16 Greenbell Communication Ltd. 117 400 33 8
17 Jambo Telkom LTD 117 400 33 8
18 Get Online Hosts 116 400 33 8
19 Intrepid Data Systems 116 400 33 8
20 Wananchi Online Ltd 106 400 33 8
21 iWay Africa Kenya 79 300 25 6
22 Imagine Brands 77 300 25 6
23 CNETGLOBAL 74 300 25 6
24 Kenya Softnet Ltd 74 300 25 6
25 Nairobinet Online Ltd 72 300 25 6
26 Aplin 71 300 25 6
27 Blueprint Technologies 71 300 25 6
28 Yengas Technologies 69 300 25 6
29 Heartbit Computer Solutions 66 300 25 6
30 Shine Web Technologies Ltd 57 200 17 4
31 Swift Global LTD 55 200 17 4
32 Callkey Networks Ltd 51 200 17 4
33 Infoken Solutions 49 200 17 4
34 Gempack Dot Net Enterprises 48 200 17 4
35 ICT Consultants Limited 48 200 17 4
36 Government Information Technology Services 46 200 17 4
37 Arise Online Ltd 45 200 17 4
38 Peak and Dale Solutions 35 200 17 4
39 Ignite Africa Limited 34 200 17 4
40 Packet Central Technologies 34 200 17 4
41 RevWebolution Business Solutions 33 200 17 4
42 Massive Dynamic 31 200 17 4
43 JBA Advertising Co ltd. 30 200 17 4
44 Kenya Webhosting 29 200 17 4
45 Xpressive Advertising and Design 27 200 17 4
46 Digital Horizons Ltd 26 200 17 4
47 Globefinity Systems Ltd 25 200 17 4
48 Dotsavvy Limited 23 200 17 4
49 Kenya Data Networks 23 200 17 4
50 MTN Business 23 200 17 4
51 WebSoft Development 23 200 17 4
52 Transworld Computer Channels 22 200 17 4
53 Visual Pixel Systems 22 200 17 4
54 Kenya Education Network 21 200 17 4
55 Palm Online Systems 21 200 17 4
56 Domain Masters 20 200 17 4
57 Geda Limited 20 200 17 4
58 GELATI Limited 20 200 17 4
59 mbambu ltd 20 200 17 4
60 MIH Internet East Africa 20 200 17 4
61 secunets Technologies 20 200 17 4
62 Ajibu LTD 17 200 17 4
63 Dynamic World Technology Ltd 17 200 17 4
64 Ecobiz 17 200 17 4
65 Intersurf Communications Ltd. 17 200 17 4
66 Messaging Labs Africa Solutions 17 200 17 4
67 Starnet Solutions 17 200 17 4
68 Swiftweb Technologies Ltd 17 200 17 4
69 KEMNET TECHNOLOGIES 16 200 17 4
70 Web Host Africa limited 16 200 17 4
71 Extra IT Solutions 15 200 17 4
72 Ideas Africa Ltd 15 200 17 4
73 Infiniti Software Solutions Ltd 15 200 17 4
74 Softlink Chain LTD 15 200 17 4
75 Metrocomia East Africa 14 200 17 4
76 Footprint Computer Solutions Limited 13 200 17 4
77 SasaHivi Media Ltd 13 200 17 4
78 Xtranet Communication Ltd 13 200 17 4
79 Creative Edge Ltd 12 200 17 4
80 Cyberworld Internet Solution Providers 12 200 17 4
81 WEB TRIBE LIMITED 12 200 17 4
82 Asterisk Technologies 11 200 17 4
83 Computer Doctors 11 200 17 4
84 Domains Kenya Ltd 11 200 17 4
85 Four99 11 200 17 4
86 Jamii Telecommunications 11 200 17 4
87 Lexsynergy Kenya Limited 11 200 17 4
88 Logic Outsource Limited 11 200 17 4
89 WebRunner Limited 11 200 17 4
90 3mice Interactive Media Ltd 10 200 17 4
91 Alphagen Limited 10 200 17 4
92 MyISP Limited 10 200 17 4
93 Digital Vision EA Ltd 9 200 17 4
94 J.S. ENGINE 9 200 17 4
95 K.I.O.S.K. Limited 9 200 17 4
96 Loksons 9 200 17 4
97 Safenames Kenya 9 200 17 4
98 Sahannet Ltd 9 200 17 4
99 Tangerine Ltd., 9 200 17 4
100 Alence Solutions Limited 8 200 17 4
101 CompEdge Solutions Ltd 8 200 17 4
102 Mackphilisa Systems 8 200 17 4
103 Pwani Telecomms Ltd 8 200 17 4
104 Samnet Africa Limited 8 200 17 4
105 Web Dynamics Limited 8 200 17 4
106 Internet Solutions Kenya Ltd. 7 200 17 4
107 ITwenty Seven Ltd 7 200 17 4
108 Ace Solution Africa Ltd 6 200 17 4
109 Aja Limited. 6 200 17 4
110 Bunia.net 6 200 17 4
111 Espawebstars Enterprises 6 200 17 4
112 Exemplar Technologies Limited 6 200 17 4
113 Flametree Systems Engineering 6 200 17 4
114 Flex Solutions 6 200 17 4
115 HASOFT KENYA 6 200 17 4
116 IVORY PROFFESSIONALS VENTURES 6 200 17 4
117 Muva Technologies Ltd. 6 200 17 4
118 Overdrive Consultants Ltd 6 200 17 4
119 Sayari Communications Ltd 6 200 17 4
120 Scalable Wizards 6 200 17 4
121 WEBKRAFT KENYA LTD- wkl2 6 200 17 4
122 Wunderman Nairobi 6 200 17 4
123 Brand Consultants Ltd 5 100 8 2
124 Comtel Systems Ltd 5 100 8 2
125 Mindgem Concepts 5 100 8 2
126 Pure Concepts Ltd 5 100 8 2
127 Satori Solutions 5 100 8 2
128 SOURCE CODE LIMITED 5 100 8 2
129 Sumatran Technologies Solutions Co. Ltd 5 100 8 2
130 Zote Telkom 5 100 8 2
131 abba.co.ke 4 100 8 2
132 ARK CREATIVE LTD 4 100 8 2
133 FortisCL 4 100 8 2
134 frepactech – Danson pasi seet 4 100 8 2
135 Interactive Technology Ltd 4 100 8 2
136 ITworX Limited 4 100 8 2
137 Linux Solutions Company 4 100 8 2
138 Monshasha Technologies 4 100 8 2
139 Newsline Media Productions 4 100 8 2
140 Nouvelles Images 4 100 8 2
141 Onpoint-IT Solutions International 4 100 8 2
142 Sisi Communications Limited 4 100 8 2
143 Smile Telecom Solutions Ltd 4 100 8 2
144 TEXADA LTD 4 100 8 2
145 Way Forward Technologies 4 100 8 2
146 Beninda Dot Com 3 100 8 2
147 Converged Media Solutions 3 100 8 2
148 eazywiz web solutions 3 100 8 2
149 iridiumInteractive 3 100 8 2
150 Jaynet Telecoms Ltd 3 100 8 2
151 My Kenyan Host 3 100 8 2
152 PrimeSoft Solutions (K) Ltd 3 100 8 2
153 Skyprime Solutions 3 100 8 2
154 Tuseme Africa Ltd 3 100 8 2
155 Voneo Media Group 3 100 8 2
156 ZAMOYA.COM LTD 3 100 8 2
157 Allied Technique Inc 2 100 8 2
158 Chui Technologies 2 100 8 2
159 Cyber Dream 2 100 8 2
160 Francis Montet 2 100 8 2
161 Kenya Network Information Centre 2 100 8 2
162 MobiKash Afrika Ltd 2 100 8 2
163 Pensoft Systems Limited 2 100 8 2
164 Sentinel Systems ltd 2 100 8 2
165 TechDirect Solutions Ltd 2 100 8 2
166 Twenty Four Interactive 2 100 8 2
167 Eighty Four Inspired (84Inspired) 1 100 8 2
168 Frontier Optical Networks 1 100 8 2
169 ITech Solutions Ltd 1 100 8 2
170 Knowledge Technology Ltd 1 100 8 2
171 LANet Consulting 1 100 8 2
172 Mzoori LTD 1 100 8 2
173 Octopus ICT Solutions LTD 1 100 8 2
174 Online Kenya Technologies 1 100 8 2
175 Quintica Kenya Limited 1 100 8 2
176 TraceSoft Limited 1 100 8 2
10875 47000 3929 959

Was the IEBC Network compromised? An insiders view……

In the last few days, many things have been called into question, chief among them, the Independent Electoral and Borders Commission’s (IEBC) network. Many experts thought that it had been hacked, a especially after a Database error was reported. The DB error was multiplying the rejected votes by  eight.

In these emotional cases, one party feels like they know better and would have offered better solutions and the other party wonders where these people were to offer solutions when the process began……the story goes on.

One of the main questions was whether the system underwent a penetration test, commonly known as a pentest, to determine whether it can be hacked. Te answer is yes…..it was pen tested and monitored. You can imagine my relief when an information security expert, who did the pen test, agreed to share findings and the process.

Here is the response I got, verbatim, I have not edited it……. My apologies if its too tech or too boring 🙂

“Last year IEBC reported that they wanted to test if their systems would be hacked, or penetrated into. Personally last year, I had a lot of issues to deal with, I wasn’t well and so I took up the task this January on the second week of the year 2013.

Having fast Internet in the house, the first objective was www.iebc.or.ke.

Like any other Pentester, I had to learn,which services the box was showing to the world,  and the first thing I realized the only port allowed to the world was port 80, not fully secured, cause I could see that it was  on a debian box.

See below

197.248.2.46:80 Apache/2.2.16 (Debian) ( Powered by PHP/5.3.3-7+squeeze14

with internal IP, 10.20.1.10

So the only thing an evil hacker would do here is to try DOS this apache, since the version is vulnerable to Remote Denial Of Server. But thats not for me, I wonna pentest, not break things for fun, like Anonymous Kenya tried to do during the Elections Week. By the way, that was really stupid, and it didn’t work!

So, I also noted that this webserver was not sitting in the same network, IEBC uses, its on a different WAN, suspected Safaricom due to the IP Address. I decided to drop this and adapt like any hacker would do. So the next thing was to look for other domains that had to do with iebc, and some interesting ones came up.

ftp.iebc.or.ke

mail.iebc.or.ke

webmail.iebc.or.ke

Now it was time to go further.

By now my target had become the mail server, since these others reflected to the domain from Safaricom. By this time I hadn’t picked the Google’s domain, vote.iebc,or.ke

So I started to focus on the mail box, and realized it was sitting in IEBC office, Anniversary Towers, Nairobi. Heck, yes, I was on the right track.

So the first thing was to know which floors, but with high security it was getting harder. Several social engineering attempts and I got near 16th floor and saw that the machines on the LAN were on Windows, and Symantec as AV.

(Am trying not go technical on this post, bear with me.)

So the first step was to get a VPS servers and upload a Malware client and prep  a Malware server, tested it on Virtual Machines at the comfort of my home for around two weeks, until i got the dropper working right. I needed to make sure I own atleast one workstation, then propagate my attack from there.

Am not going to bore you on how I got my malware into the IEBC internal network and I had a lot of time scanning and probing for services on this infrastructure, but I was in, and fully in change of the machine I had hacked into. Luckily this workstation I had got into wasn’t getting switched off at night, but I worked hard to make sure that in case the owner decides to reboot, my code would still connect back via port 443 to my VPS server in UK. A few days I was able to update my Malware server, and I was ready to test a reboot, and I ran it.

The connect-back came back just fine. This was tested during lunch hour around February, just before 14th.

Now, it was time to look for a more info, the amount of machines and infrastructure was overwhelming, but I had all the time in the world.

Below is an Internal Scan of  10.1.2.1-254 scan of SMB Service

10.1.2.2:445 is running Unix Samba 3.5.10-125.el6 (language: Unknown) (name:BVRFTP01) (domain:BVR)

10.1.2.3:445 is running Unix Samba 3.5.10-125.el6 (language: Unknown) (name:BVRFTP02) (domain:BVR)

10.1.2.4:445 is running Unix Samba 3.5.10-125.el6 (language: Unknown) (name:BVRFTP01) (domain:BVR)

10.1.2.76:445 is running Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard 7601 Service Pack 1 (language: Unknown) (name:BVRMCV01) (domain:BVR)

10.1.2.77:445 is running Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard 7601 Service Pack 1 (language: Unknown) (name:BVRMCV02) (domain:BVR)

10.1.2.78:445 is running Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard 7601 Service Pack 1 (language: Unknown) (name:BVRMCV03) (domain:BVR)

10.1.2.79:445 is running Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard 7601 Service Pack 1 (language: Unknown) (name:BVRMCV04) (domain:BVR)

10.1.2.80:445 is running Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard 7601 Service Pack 1 (language: Unknown) (name:BVRMCV05) (domain:BVR)

Just by luck, I bumped into an email, via *.PST, that had an attachment with information about the RTS, and the name of the machine in IEBC infrastructure and also the one in BOMAS and DR. I wont share the IPs of these initial machines, but the systems hostname as known by the network was results.iebc.or.ke.

Breaking into this was easy, via php vulnerabilities and also that it was still using simple passwords, and also the developers common mistakes of leaving SQL dumps on the webroot. Got in added a user on the system by end of February. Then I started going for the system at BOMAS. Lucky me, it was windows, much more easier. By this time it was almost at the start of March, and an IEBC official called me and told me to send my CV over for recruitment as a contractor.

By this time, I hadn’t told them how far I had gone with the test, but by the time I told them about it, and also with what they saw I can do, I was up for the job.

Now one thing I gotta clarify is that, when I got to Bomas on the first day, I picked some serious vulnerabilities that I couldn’t pick when I was attacking the network from remote and we realized with the set up at BOMAS any bad guy who would get a chance to hook up into the network would definitely break into the main server, and therefore mess up with how the results were getting in via APN.

I did my Internal Assessment within 48 hrs of no sleep. and did my report, and it was too late to fix some of the vulnerabilities, cause if it was attempted, there would be system failures. Next day, was elections day.

The only options was to monitor for any form of attack, within and from Safaricoms VPN. I did set up the Network Intrusion System and also Hosts Intrusion Detection systems and also changed the simple passwords, blocked the SQL server from the network and March 4th found me getting things to work. By mid 4th, all was ready.

Now, due to sensitivity of issues, I will not copy the incident report here or with any details, but I wish to specify we had two attacks, all of them ran on the initial step, reconnaissance and by the time scanning had started, I had hammered the attack, and all was okay.

The other issue, was a bug on a php script that was querying addition info to DB, and also a /var/log, that was not partitioned adequately.

So, a lot of rumors spread by some countrymen, meant to bring up chaos, (sorry it dint work, Kenyans, we are peaceful), saying that the systems were hacked were completely ridiculous, since we monitored every traffic, any binary and service that ran on both Servers and the major machines, We also monitored any laptop, computer that got hooked on the network, for any type of polymorphic type of attack, network scanning or a form of Advance Persistent Threat etc

It was a hell of a week, but we did it.”

 

Ends

Google supports Africa interconnection efforts

Google has partnered with the Internet Society to develop and improve Internet Exchange Point (IXP) activities in emerging markets.

Google, through its philanthropic arm- Google.org – has provided a grant that is expected to amplify ISOC’sprevious efforts in emerging markets such as Africa and establish a methodology to assess IXPs, train people to operate the IXPs, as well as build a more robust local Internet infrastructure.

“With this support to extend IXP development and improve projects, the internet society can bring core Internet infrastructure to underserved countries and assist in building key human and governance capabilities; this will also help the Internet Society achieve its mission to ensure the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of people everywhere,” said Lynn St. Amour, President and CEO of the Internet Society.

In the last few year, Google has been active in Africa, helping in setting up content generation projects, Internet connectivity and set up of Google cache server at ISPs in Africa. Google has also been supporting the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum, an annul meeting of ISPs, network, content providers and governments interested in lowering connectivity costs in Africa and removing interconnection barriers between countries. The forum is organized by ISOC. 

“The Internet Society has proved to be one of the most effective institutions in the Internet community. I am confident that they will apply their grant wisely to extend their work to increase Internet access for everyone, including those in emerging markets,” said Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google.

IXPs allow ISPs and other network operators to exchange traffic locally at cost effective rates. This helps lower end-user costs, speed-up transmissions, increase Internet performance, and decrease international Internet connectivity costs.  Google.org, is a team within Google inc focused on social impact, develops and supports technology solutions that can address global challenges, such as expanding Internet access to the seven billion people in the world.

The Internet Society is already working on another project with the African Union, to establish IXPs where none exist.

///

Paul Kukubo, Victor Kyalo, set to leave ICT Board

After five years at the helm of the Kenya ICT Board, Paul Kukubo is leaving his post as CEO and Taking over as the head of the East Africa Commodities Exchange. No website yet but you can read more about it here. Paul’s contract was renewed in 2010 for three years through this Gazette notice.

Victor Kyalo, the Deputy CEO at the board is also set to leave, to go back to teaching at the University of Nairobi, but he will probably not take long before he bounces back to the ICT sector 🙂 He lectures/teaches electrical engineering at the University.

Victor Kyalo

Paul and Victor have been leading lights in Kenya’s ICT industry and are responsible for setting up the board and showing its relevance to other ministries but with the e-gov directorate, you understand why the roles were confused.

Now its time for all in the industry to forget all those things we never liked with the board and start with all the nice things, and how we will miss them. Yes, seriously 🙂

And here I go………

During their leadership, the government of Kenya was able to appreciate technology and innovation, opened its data for developers, and set up the youth fund, which was supposed to supplement venture capital and savings.

Who can forget Tandaa……. The content grants, they made some folks rich, some skipped town while others realized running business is hard.

IBM set up a research lab, government is contributing Ksh 170 million and the staff is being sourced from the best universities globally, given that Kenya has no capacity.

During its earlier years, maybe first or second, the board supported BPOs, in fact, I think that was the main reason it was formed, but priorities have changed.

Who is taking over?

Eunice Kariuki is the deputy CEO and can be expected to take over, if there is no argument that we need fresh blood to be injected…… or some other argument like that.

So, what do you have to say about the duo? You can put your nice things in the comments 🙂

Kenya ICT Masterplan to be launched tomorrow

The Kenya ICT Board is set to launh Kenya’s four year ICT master plan. It projects that by 2017:

  1. Every citizen, resident, home and institution will be connected through a countrywide robust, accessible and affordable ICT infrastructure.
  2. Kenya will become the leading ICT HUB in Africa attracting leading global players and generating globally respected local entrepreneurship and innovation.
  3. Public Services will be available to all citizens through ICT and ICT will enable a truly open and efficient Government delivering meaningful value to citizens.
  4. Kenya will be a Knowledge Based Economy. All Kenyans will be able to use ICT to improve their knowledge, businesses and livelihood. ICT will contribute greatly to Kenya’s economic growth.

I am sure we have heard such lofty plans of where we will be in four, five, ten thirty years and it is great to have such projections but I have an issue with the opening statement on page five:

“Access to information is a basic human right that every citizen should have and every Government is obliged to deliver. It is vital for the efficient delivery of public services as well as capacity creation in the private sector industries, which are responsive to the needs of citizens and businesses.”

Has Kenya decided that access to information is a human right? Well, I am sure water and energy provisions are basic human rights in Kenya but we all know how the story goes. But this is a good thing for the tech industry, it means we can demand access to ICT services at lower rates, because its a basic right, that even those living on a dollar a day can access.

During the ITU International Telecommunication Treaty negotiations in December, one of the contentious issues was “access to information as a human right” some governments- majority Arab nations thought that ICT had nothing to do with human rights and that rights were taken care of in other treaties. The west and the sympathisers had alternative views and that is why the ITU meeting was still born, its didn’t go beyond paragraph one, the West could smell defeat and they bolted.

Kenya had originally taken the “Africa position” which was aligned with the Arab nations but Bitange Ndemo, PS in the InfoCom ministry changed all that by taking the more progressive side, which the West had also  taken and the ensuing problems between the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and the PS were unfortunate.

So, the admission that Access is a basic right in Kenya settles some of those problems and sort of proves that the CCK was misplaced in its support of certain treaty clauses.

Back to the master plan…

The document promises real economic growth, I wonder if there is anything like fake economic growth. It also promises all those lofty things that come with economic growth, employment, business growth etc….

It sounds like what the board said about the BPO industry….. five years later, no one wants to talk about BPO, people want to talk about things that are more successful like software development, ICT hubs, co-working spaces, etc.

There is this part:

“We are strengthening governance and increasing engagement with Government and with Private Sector to remove barriers that would impede execution.”

Then there is this one:

“This plan centers on the needs of the citizen to ensure all efforts are designed to address those needs and truly deliver a society built on knowledge.”

Now, I am at odds with those two statements. I will borrow heavily from Phares @kaboro who the other day educated me on the process it takes to set up a limited liability company, have a lawyer sort out the shareholders agreement, to make sure no one swindles the other and to make sure that the company starts off nicely. In Kenya, this whole process with cost dearly and that is before you start looking for office space. In Texas, which is the most expensive in the US, this process takes $300 approx. ksh. 25,000.

So, if the ICT Board was serious about the two statements and making sure that they resonate with people like Kaboro, the next statement should have been that they are in negotiations with the Law Society of Kenya, KEPSA, KAM, etc, to make sure that the bottlenecks that hinder business now are sorted, not six years to come, now.

By the way, when I asked a lawyer about a limited liability company, he took a pen and paper and as soon as the figure hit ksh 200,000 I took the easiest option but then that means that the company can not do business with certain governmental bodies that require limited liability company. I am sure many of us know that there are various types of liability company structures 🙂 A normal company registration can cost you as little as 25k and can go to unlimited levels depending on lawyer, if you need agreements to be done, that lawyer to review your initial agreements with landlord, client etc. A company limited by guarantee, which is what most NGOs opt for, costs you about 200k because statutory deductions are higher, has to go to NSIS for vetting etc, then you can add the other shareholder stuff. But that can be well discussed in another post 🙂

But we can all be consoled:

“Earlier drafts of the plan were validated globally in the USA, UK, Singapore, and South Africa among other countries and learnings incorporated. Beyond this a local citizen engagement exercise was carried out over a period of one month and feedback incorporated. All this was done to ensure that every possible input would be considered to enable delivery of a holistic plan.”

I am not sure whether @kaboro attended these sessions to give his views, but we can assume that we will be on the development path, just like the countries that the master plan benchmarked with. I am sure that the big businesses have their challenges too but for tech start ups, Kaboro hits a fundamental note.

The study talks about Konza Tech City and all the goodies that come with it and the several pillars through which the plan will be implemented. Here are some of the objectives:

The key objectives Connected Kenya Master Plan will meet include:

  • Driving creativity and enabling innovation among businesses and individuals
  • Connecting businesses, individuals and communities and giving them the ability to harness resources and
    capabilities across geographies through Digital Inclusion
  • Becoming the conduit for Kenya to be an exporter of Technological Innovation

In meeting the Master Plan objectives, Connected Kenya Master Plan will drive the following focal areas: 

  • Formulation of Policy for the Development of ICT Infrastructure
  • Promotion of Equity in the Provision of ICT in Kenya
  • Development of Film and Information Content towards the Creative Economy
  • Contribution to making Kenya a Middle Level Economy through IT Enabled Services
  • Improvement of Universal Access to ICT Services
  • Facilitation of Development of Skilled Human Resources for the ICT Sector
  • Dissemination of information to the public

 

Paul Kukubo, CEO, ICT Board

The team that worked on the master plan have done a good job, the lay out and the photos are great, but the content leaves me feeling like it is all that I have heard Paul Kukubo and company at the ICT board say in the last five years. The team at the the ICT board knows the sector well, and with resident experts from Accenture and Dalberg among other international ICT consultants, I would not expect anything less.

The document hits all the right notes, if you are a new comer, but if you have been in the industry and listened to how Kenya would overtake Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, India and the famous South Korea, this is routine stuff.

By the way, tech experts should lay off the South Korea vs Kenya in 1969 analogy, its embarrassing.

Maybe the master plan wasn’t meant for me, and maybe it will be argued that the plan is meant to guide not do but for once, can’t we just do and then plan and regulate later. The over used Mpesa comes to mind, product was developed, used and government had to think of ways to regulate.

I would be more interested if the board facilitated techies to access government data, even dummy data, to test services instead of planning how to. I was at the iHub the other day and listened to a developer narrating how he had gone to the registry of persons, seeking identity card data, even of dead people to test and it was rejected, the developer even asked for dummy data but by the time you get there, the registry can just as well ask you to come up with your random data.

The ICT board is good, get me right, it has made some people rich with grants that are not strictly monitored, some people took the grants and skipped town while others had their dreams come true but after five years, don’t tell me that out of thousands of companies started out in Silicon valley and only a few made it, do something.

Tandaa grants started in 2008

A good plan it might be, but I want some of the simple services, like a search on the companies registry website, I did this article a while ago and today I did a search and no much help either, do we need a plan to fix such basic services? If you fix the search for company names, it will help ease congestion and time will be used for more innovation 🙂

 

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Kenya Triumphs in Ericsson’s Competition

Ericsson has finally announced winners of the Apps for African City Life Competition. The first prize goes to Team Shinsekai from Senegal while Kenya grabbed the second and third positions respectively.

The ‘Apps for African City Life competition is part of the global 2013 Ericsson Application Awards (EAA 2013) – for application developers.

Team Shinsekai developed an app to support environmental sanitation and hygiene development in cities. Kenya developed the Easy Parking and Tokelezea applications. Easy Parking application will help motorists locate and pay for available parking areas thus reducing fuel consumption. Tokelezea will focus on enabling individuals to locate events and places around them and share the information with their friends.

The “Apps for African City Life” award was designed to inspire innovation and promote the development of mobile applications that address the demands of business and daily life in urban centers across Africa’s Networked Society.

Ericsson’s Sub-Saharan Africa Marketing and Strategy Head Shiletsi Makhofane said that applications are an integral part for a Networked Society.

The regional competition opened on October 29, 2012 and ran until January 25, 2013. Entries were accepted in two categories – one for students and the other for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Teams were required to develop an application based on the Android platform that addressed the theme, ‘Apps for African City Life’ which is designed to promote the development of innovative ideas and mobile applications to address situations particular to urban centers across the region.

In tandem, the rate of urbanization in Africa is recognized as the most rapid in the world. By 2020, Africa is expected to have 70 cities with populations over 1 million, including 11 mega-cities with 5 million inhabitants or more.

According to the latest United Nations projections, between 2010 and 2030 the urban population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double, from 298 million to 595 million.

However, urbanization in Africa has yet to deliver the economic development and degree of prosperity that is expected. Inadequate education and physical infrastructure have constrained the efficient use of resources, and industrial development. While ICTs, and in particular mobile technology, has dramatically transformed people’s lives, there is still an untapped potential in supporting social and economic growth, in the region.

The members of the winning teams in the regional competition will each receive top-of-the -range android tablets and their applications entered into the global competition – EAA 2013 – “Apps for City Life”, for a chance to win a €25,000 cash prize.

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MultiChoice Embarks on Aggressive Marketing Campaign

MultiChoice Africa has embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign, aimed at retaining customers and getting new subscribers.

The campaign, dubbed “Thank You” will see the satellite TV provider award cash prizes to its subscribers, in a promotion worth Sh6 million. This initiative runs from February 5 until April 10.  MultiChoice owns DSTv, the oldest pay TV company in Kenya.

All active DStv subscribers automatically qualify for the draw.  The winners will be identified through a random draw witnessed by an auditor from the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB).

Subscribers have the following options:

• 10% Discount – any subscriber who pays their subscription before disconnection qualifies for a 10% discount.

• Cash giveaways – Each week a lucky subscriber, in Kenya, stands a chance to win a cash prize of up to Sh600,000/= for staying connected to DStv’s exciting world of sport, movies, music, news, kids, documentary and lifestyle entertainment.

• Competition – this will run in form of a “Spot the Reward box” on air, which will require subscribers to stay tuned – and when you see a blue DStv Rewards Box pop up on screen, you SMS/TEXT the competition hotline (details onscreen and at www.dstv.com) with your name and you could win 12 months free DStv subscription.

MultiChoice Africa CEO Nico Meyer said that: “We’re always searching for new ways to add extra value to our subscribers’ lives. Whether through innovative programming, embracing new technology or expanding our operations network, we aim to be the best. This year we’re consolidating all our subscriber loyalty competitions and initiatives into one portfolio called DStv Rewards.”

The winners walking away with cash prizes will be filmed for inserts that will be screened during the hit game show THE MONEY DROP on AfricaMagic and AfricaMagic Entertainment.

Consumers are encouraged to update their DStv account contact details so that in case of a win, they get the news faster.

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2.4 million unregistered SIM cards switched off- CCK

It seems the announcement of sim card registration across all networks and subsequent disconnection if not registered is a bit more serious than we think. The four local mobile operators have to date switched off more than 2.4 million unregistered SIM cards.

According to statistics gathered by CCK (Communications Commission of Kenya), a total of 2,408,266 unregistered mobile lines had, by January 8, been switched off, barely a week after the expiry of the December 31 deadline.

Safaricom has disconnected a total of 1.2 million unregistered SIM cards. Orange and Airtel have disconnected 520,000 and 365,266 unregistered lines, respectively. YuMobile on the other hand has switched off 323,000 SIM cards. (See tabulation below)

According to CCK, the disconnection of unregistered SIM card is progressing well in light of the laborious process of first verifying registration data received from dealers and agents countrywide.

Those who have not registered their lines are requested to do so before their lines are disconnected. Subscribers whose lines have been switched off have up to 90 days to register their SIM cards, failing which their mobile numbers will be recalled permanently and subsequently reassigned to new users.

Operator Registered Subscribers Suspended Subscribers
  28th Dec 2012 8th Jan 2013 28th Dec 2012 8th Jan 2013
Airtel 3,877,475 4,347,765 70,830 365,266
Orange 2,106,250 2,160,873 120,010 520,000
Safaricom 17,200,000 17,290,000 800,000 1,200,000
YuMobile 2,353,106 2,440,000 290,000 323,000
Total 25,536,831 26,238,638

 

1,280,840 2,408,266

 

 

Google launches Kenya election hub

Google has launched the Kenya Elections Hub, a portal where voters, journalists and campaigns can easily track news, trends information related to the elections.  This comes when the Kenya technology is at the heart of elections.

The Internet is transforming the way citizens participate and engage in the elections across Africa, as seen last year in Senegal and Ghana. Now its Kenya’s turn and expectations are high both for a peaceful transition and a deepening of democracy under the new constitution.  According to Google Zeitgeist, the IEBC (Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission) was the top trending search in Kenya in 2012, with a strong social media presence of all the major candidates.

Google is launching several initiatives to provide Kenyans with a voice and accessibility to useful information during the elections. Google has provided the IEBC with open source technology that is powering their online voter tools, including registration confirmation online and via SMS, mapping the polling stations, and a developer API.

According to Ory Okolloh, Google Policy and Government Relations Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, voters will be empowered to participate, engage and shape the political process in a democratic way, through platforms like YouTube, Google Maps and Google+”. Google has also trained local journalists, civil society and political parties on digital tools for elections to help drive citizen engagement. They have also partnered with local media organizations to support the use of Google+ Hangouts for interviews with candidates.

“The Kenyan election will be closely watched both locally and globally in 2013 and as Kenyans head to voting day, Google will continue to work to keep Kenyans more informed about this critical process,” Okolloh concluded.

For more information go to:

http://www.google.co.ke/elections/ed/ke

http://vote.iebc.or.ke/